Boxted Bridge's Save Our Bridge campaign held another protest at the bridge on July 10th. Without warning, Essex County Council (ECC) last week closed Boxted Bridge, using huge concrete blocks on both sides of the bridge to prevent any access, even to pedestrians and bicycles. Together with local residents, Dedham Vale Society chairman, Charles Clover, and other DVS members joined Lucinda Douglas-Menzies at the bridge to raise awareness of ECC's action and call again for ECC to repair this historic bridge. We also joined local parish councils and the Save Our Bridge campaign in issuing the following statement:
On Thursday 30 June Essex Highways closed Boxted Bridge to all traffic, including cyclists and pedestrians. They have declined to provide evidence or rationale for this action.
On Wednesday 5 July Essex Highways placed 11 concrete blocks each weighing 1 ton on the bridge. They have since added walls of plastic seven feet high. They have also requested the Environment Agency to erect a boom underneath the bridge to prevent canoeists from going underneath it.
We challenge these actions.
The bridge has been recently frequently inspected in the context of the strongly contested plans by Essex Highways to replace it. No suggestion of imminent collapse emerged. In the interests of maintaining public confidence, immediate and indefinite closure requires justification.
Closure to cyclists and pedestrians requires especial justification in view of the extremely low probability that passage of cyclists and pedestrians would bring about catastrophic collapse, combined with the substantial increase in inconvenience and safety risk imposed on them by the alternative routes.
The assertion of the risk of imminent catastrophic collapse loses all credibility with the imposition of 11 tons of concrete blocks on the bridge – not only heavier than any pedestrian or cyclist traffic but heavier than the vast majority of motor vehicle traffic.
We ask Essex County Council immediately to instruct Essex Highways to:
Remove all the concrete blocks from the bridge span. If it is necessary to prevent passage of vehicles, the blocking material should be away from the historic structure and the minimum required.
Reopen the bridge to pedestrian, cyclist and horse rider traffic.
Provide the inspection data considered to justify closure to independent scrutiny.
The protest was covered in the newspaper article below.
If you have not already done so, please sign the SOB's petition:
Drone photo - Simon Fernandes
Photo - Lucinda Douglas-Menzies